Beyond Graduation: Staying in Touch

David Conlee   -  

Graduation season is fast approaching. I don’t need to tell graduating seniors that, they’ve been counting down the days since at least Spring Break. Parent’s emotions have been increasingly mixed and dramatic as the date approaches.
A few things are certain, “Pomp and Circumstance” will play, speeches will be given, names read, diplomas received and parties thrown. What is less certain is what happens to student’s faith after graduation. The Barna Group reports that 65% of graduating seniors will walk away from their faith after graduation. Some will return later in life, many won’t. Every year, “Pomp and Circumstance” plays, and another class graduates high school, and with it, an increasing number of students leave behind their faith in Jesus.
So how do we as parents, small group leaders, and church leaders help students stay connected to their faith even after graduation? How do we keep students from becoming part of the statistics?
Kara Powell, author of “Sticky Faith”, suggests contact from at least one adult from the congregation outside of the youth ministry during the first semester of college is linked to graduates’ faith maturity. On a post at Parent Cue, she writes:
If you want some creative ways to show your child you are still thinking of them after they graduate, consider…
Following Sheila’s example and asking 3-10 friends to write your graduate a letter.

Texting is a decent “plan B” but it’s not nearly as meaningful or lasting.

Sending them a handwritten note on any type of paper you can find – tissues (unused please), toilet seat covers, airplane vomit bags – the more creative and outlandish, the more memorable it will be for your graduate.
Mailing them a favorite food item every week for a month, or even a semester.

Texting them pictures of items, scenes, or experiences that remind you of them. You can sprinkle photos already on your phone that feature your graduate into the mix.

Sending them an item from home that’s meaningful to them—like a blanket they love, or a sweatshirt of yours that they used to borrow all the time.

If you’re a parent of a graduating senior, consider widening the circle of influence in your students life. Enlist friends and family to write to your student. Consider creating “business cards” with your student’s new mailing address and deliver them to people who have had influence in your student’s life.
If you’re attending graduations or graduation parties this year, consider making a commitment beyond a card and cash. Consider being a pen pal that would send a care package, write an encouraging note, or even send gift cards to a student who has left for college. The impact you could have in their life could go far beyond the time it would take to drop it in the mail.
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